There are several types of certification that most HVAC professionals receive prior to entering the workforce. Common certifications include the EPA Section 608 Technician Certification, NATE certification, and HVAC Excellence certification. Each of these governing bodies offers multiple certification types which are respective to an individual’s work experience and knowledge of HVAC fundamentals.
EPA Section 608 Technician Certification
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all HVAC technicians that work with refrigerants to be certified. In order to obtain EPA certification, HVAC technicians must take a 3-hour long multiple-choice exam and score at least 70% to pass. The exam usually costs $120 and there are four exam options for certification: Type I, Type II, Type III and Universal. Type I limits HVAC technicians to working on appliances that contain no more than five pounds of refrigerant. Type II permits HVAC technicians to perform work on high-pressure appliances whereas Type III limits HVAC technicians to working on low-pressure appliances. The Universal certification allows HVAC technicians to perform work on all refrigerant systems. The EPA Section 608 Technician certification is transferable among all states and does not expire.
North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
One of the most common forms of the voluntary certification includes North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE offers four main categories for certification: Ready-to-Work, HVAC Support Technician, Core/Specialty, and Senior Level Efficiency Analyst. The Ready-to-Work certificate is for those entry-level HVAC technicians who have the least amount of education and training for the field. The HVAC Support Technician certificate is for HVAC technicians who have between 6 to 12 months of work experience in the field and mostly covers the fundamentals of HVAC. The Core and Specialty certification exams are generally obtained by HVAC workers who have at least 2 years of work experience and they must take 2 exams prior to receiving certification. The Senior Level Efficiency Analyst certification is the highest level of certification offered by NATE and HVAC technicians must hold both heating and cooling certification prior to obtaining it.
HVAC Excellence Certification
Another certification commonly held by HVAC technicians in the HVAC Excellence certification. The three types of certification offered to HVAC technicians under HVAC Excellence include the Employment Ready certificate, the Professional Technician (PT) certificate, and the Master Specialist Hands-On (MS) certificate. The Employment Ready certificate is designed for entry-level HVAC technicians and demonstrates an individual’s current knowledge of HVAC fundamentals as well as their readiness to enter the field. The PT certification measures the knowledge of HVAC technicians within their specialty area and can be used for marketing certain skillsets in order to obtain work. The MS certificate is only available to HVAC technicians who have worked in the field for at least 3 years and demonstrates that those who obtain it have the highest levels of competency within the field.